An American Airlines aircraft lands at Miami International Airport in Miami, Florida on June 16, 2021.

Joe Raedle | Getty Images

American Airlines said it flew 2.7 million people over the July 4th holiday weekend, nearly three times as many as last year, as customers continue to return to travel.

The airline operated more than 26,000 long-distance and regional flights, more than double its capacity a year ago, American chief operating officer David Seymour said in a statement to employees.

American has not provided a comparison with July 2019 before the pandemic began, but fewer travelers passed US airports nationwide compared to two years ago.

The Transportation Security Administration screened 10 million people in the first five days of July, a decrease of about 17% from the 12.2 million people who passed airport security in the same period two years ago.

American increased its flight schedules faster than its competitors United Airlines and Delta Air Lines. Last month, American announced that it had cut its flight schedule by about 1%, about 1,000 flights, for the first half of July to avoid disruption due to weather and staff shortages.

Airlines struggled to recruit staff in response to an increase in travel demand. Southwest Airlines, for example, offered flight attendants, groundhandling agents, and other employees double pay to take on weekend shifts, CNBC reported last week.

American has hired 300 people in customer operations at its Dallas / Fort Worth International Airport hub, “and we are continuing these efforts across the board,” said COO Seymour.

The weekend began with hundreds of cancellations and delays as thunderstorms ravaged the United States.

American shares were down 2.8% in morning trading, along with a slump in other airline stocks.